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The gold masks found in Sanxingdui are believed to be about 3,000 years old.

POPULAR ARCHAEOLOGY: Alien civilisations and a new human: 2021’s eight coolest archaeology and palaeontology discoveries in China

The past 12 months have been a banner year in Chinese archaeology and palaeontology. From finding a potential ancient human relative to an “alien civilisation”, some of the most exciting scientific breakthroughs in 2021 involved China.

They helped us learn more about our world long before humans roamed the Earth and told us fascinating stories about where we came from. Here are eight of the most interesting Chinese archaeology and palaeontology finds for 2021.

Chinese geologist Yuan Fuli; Johan Gunnar Andersson; the head of Yangshao village, surnamed Wang; and a Chinese missionary, also surnamed Wang, in Yangshao Village, Henan province

POPULAR ARCHAEOLOGY: How a Swedish Geologist Kickstarted China’s Love of Archaeology

In October 1921, the Swedish geologist, archaeologist, and scholar Johan Gunnar Andersson led a small expedition into rural Henan province in northern China. By this point in his career, the 47-year-old Andersson was a well-known figure in international academic circles, in part due to his earlier participation in two Antarctic expeditions. In 1914, China’s newly formed Beiyang Government hired him as a mining consultant and tasked him with surveying China’s iron ore deposits.

Former Topaz Internment Camp survivor Masako Takahashi

POPULAR ARCHAEOLOGY: Long-lost monument brings up a painful legacy for Utah Japanese internment camp descendant

Last year, two archaeologists found a monument at a Utah internment camp that imprisoned Japanese Americans. The prisoners there built it for a man killed by a guard. But earlier this year, the Topaz Museum — built to educate the public about the camp — removed the monument with a forklift. There were no archaeologists on hand and the museum hadn’t let former prisoners and their descendants know.

The Japanese American community was crushed. Some were angry. But now, they’re trying to find a path forward.

Tales of Genji

POPULAR ARCHAEOLOGY: Possible ruins of locale for ‘The Tale of Genji’ found in Kyoto

Researchers here said they uncovered the apparent remains of the Dairi imperial residence of the Heiankyu palace, the locale for Heian Period (794-1185) literary classics “The Tale of Genji” and “The Pillow Book.”

According to a report on the findings by the Kyoto City Archaeological Research Institute, the excavation was carried out in 2015 in the Higashi-Shinmeicho district of Kyoto’s Kamigyo Ward, about 500 meters northwest of Nijo Castle.

The Humanistic Archaeology Bookstore in Beijing

POPULAR ARCHAEOLOGY: How China’s only independent archaeology bookstore has survived the digital age

It's hard to believe that such a specialized bookstore some 125 square meters in size has managed to survive for almost 10 years despite challenges brought by the rise of e-commerce and the global pandemic.

More surprisingly, the quiet little bookstore, the only independent one in the country dedicated to archaeology and museology, is quiet famous in the fields both in China and abroad.

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